Key Takeaways

  • D.J. Cardenas wrote the book “Weekly Leadership” to address the gap between leaders and employees in organizations and help individuals become better leaders.
  • The book focuses on the “Five Keys of Impact Leadership”: communication, collaboration, consistency, courage, and care.
  • Effective leadership involves continuous personal growth and community involvement, not just professional development.
  • Building trust and fostering collaboration is crucial for successful leadership.
  • Vulnerability and authenticity are essential in creating a supportive and innovative work culture.
  • Leaders should engage with new generations entering the workplace and create a sense of belonging through honesty and collaboration.
  • Aligning personal desires with goals and building purposeful communities can lead to personal and collective success.
  • Networking and seeking help are important for personal and professional growth.
  • Active, actionable leadership involves taking concrete steps to create a flourishing culture.

Executive Summary

Hi everybody, thanks for tuning in to another exciting episode of The Leader Show with Lou Carter. We are joined by D.J. Cardenas, the author of “Weekly Leadership”. In this episode, he discusses the principles of weekly leadership outlined in the book to provide insight into how individuals can improve their leadership skills weekly.

So, without further ado, let’s jump right in.

Unveiling the Inspiration Behind D.J. Cardenas’ ‘Weekly Leadership’

Lou begins the discussion by asking D.J. Cardenas about his professional journey and motivations behind writing the book “Weekly Leadership.” 

In reply, the latter mentions that his experiences, ranging from consulting to working with the New Jersey Lottery, highlighted the significant gap between leaders and employees in many organizations. 

A conversation with a coworker undergoing a Ph.D. program sparked an idea about building better relationships within the corporate world. With research indicating high levels of employee disengagement, D.J. saw the need to help individuals become better leaders.

The concept behind the book’s title, “Weekly Leadership,” is the continuous journey of becoming a better leader every day, hour, and week. The book covers the “Five Keys of Impact Leadership,” which are communication, collaboration, consistency, courage, and care. These keys serve as the foundation for effective leadership, focusing not just on professional development but also on personal growth and community involvement.

Deciphering the Five Keys of Impactful Leadership

Subsequently, Cardenas delves into the five keys of impactful leadership. He first emphasizes the importance of communication and highlights how a conducive environment can help tap into inherent leadership skills and improve communication. The right environment and community can foster personal growth and encourage effective communication.

Next, D.J. highlights collaboration, stressing the significance of welcoming and implementing new ideas to inspire a sense of ownership and trust within a team. He believes this not only improves collaboration but also helps foster a supportive and innovative culture.

Consistency is another aspect D.J. elaborates on. He points out that leaders must be consistent, as leadership is a round-the-clock role that extends beyond the workplace and into the community. Every decision made by a leader can have a ripple effect, impacting others and inspiring them.

He touches upon courage as a vital aspect of leadership, stressing the need for leaders to step outside their comfort zones, engage in challenging conversations, and inspire a sense of urgency in others.

Finally, D.J. mentions the importance of care in leadership, emphasizing empathy and emotional intelligence. He suggests that being a caring leader is fundamental to making a meaningful impact and leading effectively.

Fostering Trust and Collaboration

Moving on, D.J. Cardenas highlights the importance of collaboration and co-creation in leadership, stating that it’s the solution to the prevalent issue of distrust among teams. He emphasizes the need for leaders to build trust, foster development, and co-create with their team members.

D.J. further underscores the significance of vulnerability in leadership, particularly in facilitating collaboration. He notes that being vulnerable helps leaders create an environment where everyone acknowledges they can’t know everything, thereby encouraging collective problem-solving.

Additionally, he suggests that leaders should have conversations about personal goals with their team members, which is often overlooked due to the fear of employees leaving. D.J. believes that even if an individual might not like the job, they may choose to stay because of the leader and the culture they have created. 

He strongly believes that being honest and vulnerable are key factors in promoting this kind of work environment.

Nurturing Thriving Work Cultures and Engaging New Generations in the Workplace

Next, Lou and D.J. delve into the topic of vulnerability in leadership, touching on how hard it is to be vulnerable and why it’s essential. Lou suggests the solution lies in authenticity and asking for feedback in a positive way that promotes growth.

D.J. agrees, adding that acknowledging the contributions of all team members can promote a thriving work culture. He suggests that leaders should strive to be authentic and spend time learning about themselves to have a better external impact. D.J. encourages leaders to try new things, share their thoughts and ideas, and not shy away from showing their growth struggles.

Cardenas also discusses how leaders should approach new generations entering the workplace. He says that by creating a culture of honesty and collaboration, leaders can draw people in and create a sense of belonging. He notes that this approach resonates across all ages, promoting better communication and understanding.

Aligning Personal Desires with Goals and the Power of Building Purposeful Communities

Moving on, D.J. addresses the younger generation and the internal battle they often face between personal desires and achieving goals. He emphasizes the importance of aligning oneself with their goals and the steps needed to achieve them. He encourages individuals to surround themselves with purposeful people who share similar interests or career paths, a concept he attributes to his friend Clint Pulver.

Cardenas argues that by building a community, one can develop a vast network of resources that benefits not only themselves but also others and future generations. He underscores the importance of trusting the process, even if it takes a while.

Prioritizing Networking and Seeking Help

On a similar note, Lou mentions the necessity of reaching out and networking, especially during the post pandemic times when social isolation is a prevalent issue. He notes that successful people take the initiative to network and create connections. Lou also believes that asking for help is crucial because assistance is available if we reach out.

D.J. affirms this and shares a personal story from his college days, recounting how he struggled academically and was guided by a professor, Susan Cox, who encouraged him and helped him realize his potential. He learned from her the importance of asking questions and seeking help. 

Later, he contrasts this experience with another professor who refused to offer guidance, which made him appreciate Susan’s help even more and ignited his passion for giving.

Lou reflects on the nature of giving and receiving, stressing that one must ask or request to initiate the process. D.J. agrees, underscoring that opportunities won’t just appear; people have to take the initiative.

Actionable Leadership and Reciprocal Support

After that, the speakers discuss the value of active, actionable leadership. D.J. highlights that his concept of giving revolves around his actions. To him, being ‘in the trenches’ signifies taking concrete steps as a leader that will resonate with team members and draw them into a flourishing culture. He believes these actions could be minor or major, but they all embody a steady spirit of giving without expectation.

Cardenas then talks about his experience in the lottery industry and how the term ‘in the trenches’ stuck with him. He highlights the importance of maintaining connections with your team even when you rise in rank. He then cites an example from the book “Lincoln on Leadership” where Abraham Lincoln would frequently engage with soldiers, a practice known as ‘Managing by Wandering Around.’

The speakers agree that leaders should be involved in the process with their team, which encourages reciprocal support. They both highlight the importance of leaders not being afraid to fail, as it is an integral part of success. 

Additionally, they discuss how leaders need to remain close to their employees and customers, citing Elon Musk as an example. D.J. concludes by saying that such leadership creates thriving cultures that last for decades.

Exploring D.J. Cardenas’ Resources on ‘Weekly Leadership’

Toward the end of their conversation, Lou and D.J. discuss D.J.’s book, “Weekly Leadership.” D.J. encourages the audience to check it out on Amazon or his website,, where it’s readily available. 

He also mentions his podcast, which can be found on platforms such as Apple and Spotify. D.J. expresses his eagerness to connect with others and mentions he is available for discussions on Clubhouse, an audio-based social media platform.

Thank you for your time!


Lou Carter : Hey, so we're live, D.J. Cardenas. Nice to see you today. It's great to have you on the show.

D.J. Cardenas : Great to see you as well, Louis. Thank you for having me.

LC : It's awesome to have you. I'm really excited about this because we're going to be talking about your book, Weekly Leadership, and there it is, Weekly Leadership. We're going to learn so much from D.J. today. He's going to teach us about the principles of weekly leadership and the things we can do to become even more effective. Great leaders, right DJ?

DJC : Yes, exactly. We're going to dive into it. I'm excited and I'm ready to go.

LC : Me too. So this is great. So DJ, tell me first more about what brought you to write this book.

Bridging the Gap: Empowering Leaders For Better Engagement (01:13)

DJC : You know, so it is really interesting because for me, as I look back, and I've been doing this over the last week, I've been realizing I've had so many experiences, and I think we've all had this, right? Whether you're, you know, coaching others, or you're consulting, or maybe you're a leader within an organization, as you look back, you realize you've had these different experiences, a multitude of them that have led you to that point, right?

And, you know, I look back, I remember when I graduated from college, I was working for the New Jersey Lottery, you know, I'm in North Carolina now, but I remember working for the New Jersey lottery. I was in the event management and entertainment field. I had worked my way up, and then they moved me to consulting. And I was consulting some of our clients that we had. And I remember having this kind of epiphany moment when I was talking with a coworker.

We were talking about, he was getting his PhD at the time, and he was in that whole process. And I remember talking about building relationships, and for some reason, I don't know what it was, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. And I was sitting there and I said, you know what? I got to write something about building relationships within the corporate world. Because in that organization, I realized that there was a huge disconnect between the employees and the leaders at that organization, right? And I look back at my life, I look back at my experience and I said, you know what? If I can teach a little bit of what I know, because I've led several teams within the event management field, I've had all these experiences, and I realized that I had much better engagement than what I saw within the office and within the organization.

If I could teach a little bit of that, how much that would impact them. And not only that, how many other companies and organizations are struggling with that on a daily basis, right? So, you know, we were probably 200, 250 plus, I want to say, individuals within our organization. Imagine how many others are struggling. And, that's when I started to really do the research where I said, wow. Like the numbers were, they were staggering. You know, 85% based on the Gallop research, 85% of people are disengaged or hate their job. That's a pretty shocking number. That's a pretty shocking number. So that was when I started to really focus my energy towards how I can teach people what leadership and not what leadership is about, but how they can become better leaders and become the leader that they were born to be.

LC : That's excellent. You know, and I think about what you said about disengagement in the disconnection, really, between the leader and the organization. Tell me more about the lessons. Do you have specific lessons that you teach in weekly leadership?

DJC : 100%. So first, kind of, to give a little context, I came up with the name 'Weekly Leadership'' because for me, every single day, every single hour, every single week, we're becoming better leaders, right? It's a consistent process. It's a whole journey. And, of course that journey changes over time as you go through different waves of life. But the premise of the book and what I teach is what I call the five Keys of impact leadership. As a matter of fact, I have a little poster there. And the five keys of Impact leadership, it's very simple, is communication, collaboration, consistency, courage, and care, right?

Communication, because that's the basis of all the relationships that we build as leaders. And, not only in our professional life, but in our personal life as well, in our communities, and so on. Collaboration, because, you know, you have to work with others, but also the invitation of new ideas in implementing them, right? Giving your team members ownership in the idea and taking part in those projects and so on.

Consistency, because the only way you get better is through consistent effort. Courage, because you have to have the courage to go places where most won't. And of course, you got to be genuine. You got to care, right? You have to be able to care, to where not only it's going to help you grow, but it helps impact the ones that you're serving as well. So that's really, when we look at the five keys, that's what it encompasses.

LC : Those are great keys. They unlock a lot, right? Yeah. Let's start with the first. Let's start with the first one.

The Five Keys To Impactful Leadership And Tapping Into Your Inner Leader (04:56)

DJC : 100%. Yeah. So communication for me is a big thing. Now obviously when we talk about leadership, when we talk about building an organizational culture that's thriving, communication's always going to be the basis, right? And for me, I'm a natural born communicator. But what I realized was that for me, it was about being around the right environment. And I think there's a lot of individuals who struggle with, you know, you might be in an environment where you're not necessarily tapping into that inner greatness that you might have, or that inner leader that you have, and you know it's there, but you just don't know how to access it until you change your environment.

So, I always tell people from a personal perspective, right? And when we talk about personal development and things like that, you know, changing your environment and changing the community, the people around you, really helps you tap into the leader that you were born to be, right?

So we talk about, you know, being able to communicate better, being able to find the right people that help you get to that next stage or that next chapter. I often use the analogy of two trains leaving from the same station, right? And I always say this, we can leave from the same station in life, but at some point, the track we have to separate.

So, let's say if you have two trains, one's going to California, one's going to Vermont, at some point, those trains have to separate to get to their prospective destinations. If you switch 'em, there's going to be a big mix up. There's going to be, you know, it's going to be late. You're going to get to the wrong destination. And what happens in life is that a lot of people will justify and say, oh, well, you know, this is where it is going to be a shorter ride. Or, you know, I heard the summers are nicer there, so we'll just go where everybody else is going.

And you know, nothing against Vermont. I love Vermont. I'm just using that as an example. But the point is that if we just stay on the track, that we were intended to be on that trip to California might be a little bit longer. There might be some stops along the way. There might be some obstacles. But what happens is we learn and we find the right people in the process. And so within doing that, we end up building the right relationships that help us become better communicators as well.

You know, with collaboration, you know, again, a very important part when we talk about, not only from an organizational perspective, but from your personal perspective as well. How do you become a better collaborator, right? Inviting new ideas and not being afraid to invite new ideas and implement them as well. I think it's one of the most important things you can do, not only to get ownership from your team, but being able to create that space where they feel safe enough to share the ideas and not be afraid of, oh, I don't know. You know, if I say it, I don't know what my, you know, manager or my leader's going to say, you know, it's, it's creating an environment, really. Right? Building that culture.

Be consistent every single day, right? That's the third step. Your consistency is extremely important. Making sure that you're showing up because leadership is, is 24/7, as you already know, Louis. It's ongoing. It's whether you're at work, you're at your business, you're in your community. I always say every single decision you make has a great impact on the individuals that are around you. So even if you don't know them, I mean, you see somebody struggling, you're at the supermarket and you see, you know, an old lady struggling with her backs, you have a decision you can make, you can walk past her or you can say, Hey, you know, what, do you need help? And even if they say no, it's the action that you took that might have inspired, you know, one or two or three other people to then go say, Hey, you know what? I'm going to do an act of kindness, or I'm going to do something to help somebody, right? Having the courage to step out of those boundaries and do stuff that's not the same or normal, right? Or what's deemed as normal. So being able to have the tough conversations, being able to be empathetic, and being able to have something that creates that sense of urgency in others to want to have courage as well, to have the conversations.

And then, of course, like I said before, being able to be a caring leader, being able to be an individual that cares for other people. Be empathetic. you know, one of the conversations I had earlier today actually was talking about emotional intelligence, right? Is a huge factor. So, you know, that's in a nutshell, when we talk about collaboration, when we talk about consistency, courage, and care. You know, those are the aspects that really help you become an impactful leader. And what I think are the five things that really encompass an impactful leader as well.

LC : Those are awesome. I love all five of them. And I think about the problem that everybody is having today, which is they're not collaborating. They're not creating consistency. They're not sort of going out on a limb and doing the things that are truly right. The things that really, people have truth, right? That, their true ethical selves are coming out. And, that's the problem we have. And the solution really is around collaboration and realizing that we all can be better together. And the issue with that is typically that people don't trust it. They don't trust themselves, they don't trust others, right?

There's the, it's the highest distrust ratio ever. So the solution to that, it really is more collaboration, more co-creation with each other, and the ability to say, you know, I can build trust more, I can develop more with you. Do you see that lot of this happening as well?

Creating A Safe Space for Vulnerability And Growth (10:05)

DJC : 100%. I mean, and then also, you know, one of the most important things too, is having a high level of vulnerability, right? And, and this is very important when we talk about collaboration because, you know, vulnerability is something that, you know, we've been talking about a lot more and more as, you know, as time goes on, and especially with everything we've been experiencing in the world over the last year and a half, you know, vulnerability is one of the most important aspects of being a collaborative leader. And so just being able to step in and just say, Hey guys, you know what? It's okay. you don't have to know everything. It's impossible to know everything, right? But being vulnerable in that, you're allowing your team to know that, you know what? I may not know everything, but we can work at this together, is such an important factor.

And one of the things that we're starting to see more and more in a corporate environment, but I think it's a conversation that needs to be brought up more. And yes, you know, create opportunities to collaborate as often as you can. It could be something as simple as having conversations about what are your team members' personal goals, right? And not being afraid to have that conversation, right? That's something that, you know, some individuals may not want to go to because they're afraid, well, what if they leave me, or what if, right? I mean, listen, life goes on. These things do happen. But we need to be able to have those conversations because what you do as a leader is going to greatly impact them to say, you know what? Even if they're in a position where they may not necessarily like the job itself, right? Let's just say, because that does happen.

But they love the leaders and they love the individuals and the culture that's been created, that is, I mean, that goes so much further than anything else. And so they may stay, and then, you know what? They end up finding something that they do love. So that's a very important factor. I think vulnerability and just being honest with where you are is a huge part of that as well.

LC : It's true. And the vulnerability factor, it's hard to be vulnerable. I mean, we all know it. We don't want to put our worst foot, what do they say forward? Right? We don't want to see it in a certain way. And, you know, is my hair right? Literally, do I look the right way? Am I articulating the right way? Am I making eye contact. All the things that we're supposed to be doing? We feel vulnerable when we are perhaps even ourselves. Right? So what's the, what is the solution that, well, you know, if you're asking me, it's about to be, it's being more authentic and then asking, well, what are your thoughts about that? You know, tell me more about how that is affecting, maybe be affecting what we're doing. Right?

And what kind of advice do you have for me? And the issue with advice is, most often advice is given in a really negative way. They give feedback and they harm people. They say, oh, you did this terribly. And people, people won't change when they have high stress ratios, right? So we need more advice driven, positive change. And, you know, do you see that change too in your consistency?

The Power Play Of Vulnerability: Unlocking Collaborative Leadership (13:01)

DJC : Yeah, of course. I mean, I think it's one of the most important parts, again, when we talk about being able to build a thriving culture, I think acknowledging what team members are doing and, and not just on, you know, let's say on a, on a direct report level, but on all levels, right? And acknowledging the new ideas, acknowledging the fact that they brought something that may have shifted. Maybe you had a project that was kind of going off the rails and somebody implemented a new idea.

So, you know, it's really just, again, just being honest, being vulnerable. We see this conversation coming up when we talk about, let's say like millennials moving into the workplace, right? And that's always a big conversation, or the new generation moving into the workplace where leaders may struggle with connecting with them. You know, I always say, listen, just be yourself a little bit more, you know? And, and how you can do that is spend some time with yourself, right? The best way you could become a more impactful leader is by studying yourself. Because what you do internally has a great impact on what you do externally, right?

So, going out there, you know, set a new workout routine, put yourself to a new challenge, maybe learn something new. I don't care if it's something as simple as, you know what, today I'm going to start learning how to play the piano. Okay, cool. Right? It's just that consistent effort to try something new and just being vulnerable in that, being honest in where you are and sharing those thoughts and ideas. Because I feel like there's a lot of leaders, especially in the organizational world, where they kind of pull away, right? They don't want to show that side of, you know, I may be struggling trying to learn and trying to grow, but that's just a natural part of life in general, right?

And so everything we do is a risk, you might as well do it in a way that's going to impact people and just is honest to where they can come in and say, you know what? I want to be a part of this culture. Even if they're not in the right position, or if they feel they may want to do something else down the road, it at least brings them to the conversation where they're saying, Hey, you know what? At least I can work with these individuals, and I can work with this culture because I know that they got me and I got them. So it's all about creating that collaborative culture and just being honest with where you are. And the more you do that, the more you're going to have individuals that resonate with you. I don't care if you're 18 or 80, you know, you're able to communicate with anyone in a very honest and vulnerable way that allows you to resonate with them more.

LC : That's such a great lesson. And talk about weekly leadership lessons, because look, you can hide who, you know, you can all hide and say, you know, we put all these errors. I remember, you know, 25, 30 years ago, you know, I was putting on the tie and going into work and listening to what everyone said to tell me to do. And, you know, what happened as a result of that? Well, you know, they all went to a party, and party all night, right? And I was left at work until two in the morning without a coat and key went downstairs, and, you know, I had to call the police to get out, you know what I'm saying? Literally. So, you know what happens when you're not yourself, you're going to get kicked.

DJC : Hundred percent.

LC : Yeah. You know, so there's a risk to it as well.

The Power Of Purposeful Associations: Building Networks For Leadership Success (16:00)

DJC : There is, yeah. And, you know, I think also too, that's a great point as well, because I think what a lot of individuals, and this is kind of more for a younger generation, but what I've seen is, you know, this kind of internal battle of, you know, the transition from where you are to where you want to be. And I've seen it more now because I think we're becoming more transparent in today's world, right? And I mean, obviously it's almost inevitable with social media and all the different things that we have out there, the different tools and resources, but, you know, there's always this internal battle that I see of, you know, you know, I do want to go out and I want to be around, and I want to hang out with my friends and all these different things.

But then there's also the aspect of, well, I also want to do this too. I want to achieve these goals. I want to get fit, I want to get right. And so, I've seen that, and that's another big part of leadership as well. Again, going back to the more internal aspect is just asking yourself what it is that you resonate with most. And again, the analogy that I used about the trains, you know, you might want to go out, you might want to hang out, you might want to do all these things. And then this is kind of, again, more towards the younger generation, but then also ask yourself where it is that you're trying to go, and what are the steps that you need to take? Because yes, it's going to be a little bit harder. Yes, there's going to be struggles, there's going to be obstacles, you know, there's going to be all these different things.

But I learned something from a very good friend of mine, Clint Pulver. He just released a book called, “I Love It Here,” it's an awesome book, talking about organizational culture. And we had a conversation. He said, D.J. association matters, right? We find purpose in other purposeful people. So if you're, let's say you're a wrestler, what do you do? You hang out with other wrestlers. If you're maybe in the culinary arts, you hang out with people in culinary arts, if you're, you know, you study leadership development and you want to learn how to become a great leader, you hang out with other people who study leadership development, whatever that thing is, find those, those communities, those groups of people. Because what happens is as you build the community, you end up building this great sense of resources.

And I mean, it's this network that is just totally beyond belief, but it just takes a little while to get there. So as long as you just trust that process, and you keep moving down the line, I think you end up finding the right people along the way. And you end up becoming not only a much more impactful leader, but you end up creating resources for others that then impacts them and the next generation as well.

LC : You know, it's funny when you say getting out there with the train, I like the metaphor because you can, you can stay alone easily in COVID. You could be outta your own sphere and not reach out, not go to networking events, not see people, or not even do it virtually. It's easy to do it. And, we're not reach out to anyone, really. You, and this is the time to reach out more than ever. I've seen some of the most successful people in the last year take about a hundred days out of their year to get out there.

And I can't say enough, because we won't just as a wrestler or whomever it is that you're, you know, as whomever it is that's leading, if we don't get out there, we don't find the people. We don't ask for the help, we, it's not going to be given. right. So, you know, people, were out there to help when we ask for it.

The Power Of Supportive Mentors: Lessons Learned From Academic Challenges (19:13)

DJC : You know, it's so crazy because that reminds me, you know, this is, again, I've been having some of these moments where I'm looking back on my life and, you know, looking at the things that have really impacted me. And I remember years ago when I was in college, we talk about curiosity, asking questions and things like that. I remember I had a professor who, when I was a freshman, she was a marketing communications professor, right?

And she came from the retail industry, great person, just a very sweet and kind individual. Her name is Susan Cox. And I remember when I was going to class, I was struggling because quite frankly, I was not the best student academically growing up. I struggled, right? But I showed up every single day. I tried. And, you know, I've had, you know, many other academic achievements down the road.

Once I, you know, learned and adjusted, I figured out what worked for me. But I remember in that experience, she came to me one time and she saw me struggling. And she said, you know what DJ, why don't you meet me during my office hours? I want you to come in my office. We got the final coming up. I see you're coming to class every day, but I want to do a little study plan with you. So this way you have something that you can, you know, go back to and you can study and you know, you have a good shot at passing this test, and you can raise your grade.

So I go, we do the study plan. Sure enough, I take the exam, I pass, and I end up passing the class with a much higher grade than I had before. And she came up to me, she said DJ, you have the things within you to do great, right? You have the knowledge, you have the resources. Don't be afraid to ask the questions. Don't be afraid to go out there because you know what to do. You just got to put in a little bit of work. Just got to dig a little bit deep. You already have it. You just proved it right now. You came in, you took the test, you passed, and now you don't have to worry about struggling.

And I, that was a very impactful moment for me because fast forward a year later, she, unfortunately, she passed away. And, I had her as a professor when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. And, you know, we lost her during that time.

But then I had a professor who was the total opposite where I was really struggling. And I went up to them and I said, Hey, you know, you don't mind if we can have a conversation. I just need some guiding points. I don't want to curve my grade or nothing like that. I just needed some guiding points. And he literally looked at me and was like, I don't know what you want from me. I don't know what you want from me. You know, he's like, listen, I can't really do much for you. And I said, I mean, I just want some guidance. He's like, I don't know what you want. And just, he looked at me, put on his glasses, kept reading his book, and just like,pointed at the door.

And I remember in that moment, there were two things I could have done. I could have said, you know what, this sucks. Whatever. I'm just going to like fail the class and, and this and the third. Or I can flip the situation where I said, you know what? This sucks, but this is a personal lesson for me to where I can now take this and use it as a moment to teach other people just like Susan Cox did for me when I was a freshman. So that, you know, I mean, and we're going back years now, but that was something that deeply impacted me. And right there in that moment, I fell in love with giving. So those are, you know, when we look at those experiences that, you know what I mean, they are super, super impactful.

LC : It's funny about giving, isn't it? Isn't it that in order to give or receive, you have to request.

DJC : Right.

LC : And otherwise, you know, we think that just something will come down and will happen, and it won't.

DJC : Yeah exactly.

LC : Even with advice, can I have your advice on this? May I have this particular help in this way, support in this way. And the best leaders do that consistently daily, right? It's very uncomfortable for most people because they think just by virtue of being there, that their presence and demand,Just will happen. It's not about the demand, it's about the leadership behavior. And you said you fell in love with giving. you fell in love with giving. And how did that tell me more about giving, because there's a lot of forms of giving and gift. What, what are the, what are the ways that your gifts that you've given are, have manifested?

Leading From The Trenches: The Power Of Actionable Leadership (23:16)

DJC : So, I mean, again, and you put it perfectly. I mean, there's many ways of looking at this. For me, it was, it was through action. You know, again, growing up I was never the best academically. You know, I love what Scott just said there. Take every moment as a way to teach other people. It's very true. Because, you know, for me, in that moment, I realized what I wanted to do when he pointed the door. And I, you know, I guess kind of like slapped my hand when I was looking for guidance. That's when I fell in love with giving, because I used it as a moment to say, you know what? I don't want to do that to other people. I want to make sure that I can help other people and guide them. So, you know, I remember when I first started my career, I, you know, I got into the lottery industry.

I was, you know, working in event management. And one of the terms that just kept coming up in my mind was being in the trenches. And what I mean by that is, and you know, I have a lot of family members that were in the military. I was in the US Air Force Auxiliary as a senior member, with the Jimmy Stewart Composite Squadron in Sayreville, New Jersey.

So there's a lot of that, you know, that kind of how I came up with the term. But being in the trenches is really just about taking those actionable steps. What are you doing as a leader that's going to impact them? And so this way, they end up wanting to come back to be a part of that thriving culture, right? And it could be small things that doesn't have to be anything big or crazy. It could be small things.

It could be, you know, having a conversation with someone, again, with their personal goals. What are they? And your personal life, if it's family members or your community, it's, it's a hug for someone. It's an, I love you, it's a prayer, it's whatever that thing is. It's that consistent sense of giving without expectation. Because in the process of doing that, you end up growing yourself. And you may not even realize it in the process, but you'll see it as you start to take the actionable steps within your organization, within your teams. And so, I think it's really important that we're in the trenches. Don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves. Sometimes we have leaders that, you know, they work themselves up and they get to a certain level, like managerial or, you know, vice president or director executive, and we distance ourselves. We figure, you know what? We're at this level now, I'm good. Right? And, sometimes we forget what it's like.

So being able to go in there, you know, being able to roll up the sleeves. One of my favorite terms is managing by wandering around one of my favorite books, by Donald T. Phillips. He talks about it in a book called Lincoln on Leadership. Abraham Lincoln was very famous for doing that. He would go into the field, he would have the conversations, he wanted to talk to soldiers. I don't know when the last time was, but he would have soldiers come to the White House on the front lawn, and he would go down there and talk to them, right? Just talk to them, Hey, how you doing? How's everything going? What are your thoughts? Like, and then they coined it. There's a book called In Search of Excellence that came out in the eighties that coined it MBWA, Managing by Wandering Around.

And so that has deeply impacted me. And for me, it's just about taking the actionable steps, being able to do the things that are going to impact people, not in a very big, grandiose way, but in a small ways, right? It's not always about throwing a pizza party and Hey, let's have a pizza party at tomorrow's, you know, town hall meeting. Let's have a conversation. Let's talk about what you want to do. Let's talk about how we can get better and not be afraid. Again, courage. Not be afraid to have those real conversations, because that is where we grow the most. So that's, that's how I look at it.

LC : You know, it really is about these real conversations, isn't it? Because, you know, like you said, Abraham Lincoln, he had an open tent policy. Literally his tent when he, and he went everywhere. And that, when you said that, imagine by wandering around, I thought of, you know, not that we're all Elon Musk, right? Not even close to being like Elon. Everybody thinks they should follow the, you know, practices of, you know, these greatest who are billionaires. Not that we are Elon Musk. However, Elon, he talks about, brags about living in, a 250 square foot space

Having a cot, right? And, over in his, in, next to the production facility where he works on the Tesla 3s and S's and, you know, making them better. And I really do think that I, and I believe that that is a really good case of you need to get closer to the customer, closer to employees who are doing the real work. And it's okay to give ideas, to ask for what you want, just like your professor or other mentors who've been around there. It's okay, even if you're a cop, if you're CEO or if you're on the board too, right? Don't wait till your CEO or staff fail to work with them because they will fail, and that's okay. They'll learn from it. You'll co create with them. That's good. And be in it with them so they know, have consistency across them.

DJC : Exactly. Yeah. You got to be in the process with them. You know, not being afraid to fail is obviously a huge factor to success, on all levels. But making sure that they know and they understand that, you know, you're there with them and you know, you support them, they'll support you. I mean, it's a transference of energy, right? It's really just all about what you're doing for them and how they can help you. And then also vice versa, right? Because once they see that in their leader, they're going to be, oh my God. I mean, the sky's the limit, right? On what you can do, what you can create. And that's how you create thriving cultures that are 30, 40, 50 years in the game.

LC : Awesome. Well, we've had a great transference of energy today, DJ. I've totally enjoyed being with you and having this great conversation. D.J. Cardenas, check out his book. Here it is. Put it there, weekly Leadership, check it out. You can get on, Barnes and Noble, or go to DJ's website. D.J. want to give your website?

Discover DJC: Unleashing the Five Keys of Impact Leadership (28:59)

DJC : Yeah, definitely. Thank you again, Lou. I really appreciate it. And, you can check us out at We have the podcast on Apple and Spotify. The book, as Louis said, is on Amazon. Or if you go to my website, weekly, you'll see it there. And, you know, just click on the link. It'll take you right there. and then we also have articles and a bunch of other fun things that we do. I'm also on clubhouse @DJCardenas, and we have awesome conversations every single week on the topics of leadership, personal growth, and all the things that make individuals a great leader. So, you can always, you know, reach out to me there, [email protected], and I'm more than happy to connect with anyone.

LC : So you got a lot of great things there. A weekly leadership, a podcast, a book training. We got a lot of great stuff out there that you can do to work with. To DJ, here's one of them. It's the website. And, on Amazon weekly leadership, check out his podcasts, all the awesome things he's talking about. And just remember his five areas that he's talked about, which are awesome. You know, these, these five great areas of collaboration, consistency, courage, And, well, we had vulnerability too in there, didn't we? Right?

DJC : Yeah we have com communication, collaboration, consistency, courage and care, what I call the five keys of, impact leadership.

LC : Oh, it's awesome. I mean, you, we follow these weekly leadership competencies and behaviors. We're going to get better. The whole world's going to get better. I know it. And that's just, it's the drop in the sand as they say, the great book by Waldrop called, Chaos Theory. You've heard this? And it's just a drop in the sand that we make that just changes the whole, it transforms the whole system. And D.J. just did that today for all of us. So DJ, thank you so much. It's great to see you.

DJC : Thank you, Louis. Thank you so much, and I appreciate the opportunity again. Thank you.